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Ö-quadrat - Ökologische und ökonomische Konzepte

Premium for electric vehicles - A disservice to climate protection?


Dieter Seifried regards the premium for electric vehicles as a senseless subsidy.The Federal Government adopts climate-damaging measures and finances them with the national climate fund. The nonsensical subsidies are compensated with additional excise tax revenue from the e-vehicle sales. This connection can be easily illustrated with German’s favourite car.

For a Golf Blue Motion TSI, VW indicates CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometre. The emissions for 100 kilometres are thus 9.9 kg CO2. The e-Golf’s consumption in the books is 12.7 kWh per 100 kilometres and it is touted as the most efficient in its class. To produce an extra kilowatt-hour in a coal power plant, additional coal needs to be burnt. This results in more than 0.8 kilograms of CO2. Why can’t the emission calculations be based on the electricity mix? The explanation is simple but irrefutable: PV systems, wind turbines and nuclear power plants produce all the time, if it’s possible and they’re operational, because their variable costs are almost nil. They will not produce more electricity because of an electric vehicle. So the additional power must come from a power plant that is not saturated. It is also conceivable that less electricity is exported - then a fossil power plant would be turned on abroad. Thus, the connection of electric vehicles to the electrical outlet results in emissions superior than 0.8 kilograms of CO2 per kilowatt hour, even in a modern coal plant. If we add the power losses, the result is over 10 kilograms of CO2 per 100 kilometres for the e-Golf.

Well-meaning people mention, in the consideration of the electric vehicles’ emissions, that these are only clean when the owners refuel them with green electricity. However, they overlook the fact that nearly all green power products are deceptive and not a single gram of CO2 is being saved. No advantage therefore for climate protection - but the promotion fund for efficient climate protection measures is being plundered.

However, the financial loss for the state budget is initially insignificant: while German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble gives 2 000 euros with one hand, he takes 2 300 Euro more with his VAT-hand. Indeed, the e-Golf, even after deducting the 2 000 euros manufacturer subsidy, is still 12 000 euros more expensive. In the long run, however, it becomes more expensive for the Federal Government, as the disappearing taxes on motor vehicles and fuel revenues are substantially greater than the additional electricity and value-added taxes that are collected through the additional power consumption of the electric vehicles.

The perfidy in this situation are the lies with which a real climate policy is to be avoided. While pretending to protect the climate, what’s really made is (bad) industrial policy. If the climate issue was taken seriously, the tax privilege for large company cars would be abolished, SUVs and other climate damagers would be taxed more heavily, a speed limit would be introduced, the local and long-distance public transport would be expanded, and the infrastructure for non-motorized transport would be improved. In this scenario, even light electric vehicles would have their place and should be encouraged.

At this point it is usually objected that the energy revolution is headed for 100 percent renewable electricity and that by 2050 the electricity will come almost exclusively from renewable energy sources. Yet although this development was indeed promised by signing the legally binding climate treaty of Paris, a reverse development is taking place in the energy sector instead: considering the poor economic situation of the big energy companies, the expansion of renewable energy sources is specifically slowed down. This process could be further strengthened if the current draft bill from April 2016 for the new EEG  (better said: for the abolition of the EEG) was to be implemented by the legislator. Yet the whole is communicated as being cost-effective climate protection.

Good advice to the governing parties: instead of slowing down the climate protection in order to spare the energy companies, instead of praising premiums for the automotive industry under the guise of "zero-emission" vehicles, instead of communicating on climate change policy while operating industrial policy and protecting the energy trusts, the government should address its own climate protection targets through genuine and effective climate protection measures in the energy and transport sector.